HTML stands for the Hypertext Markup Language. It was defined by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 as the method of marking up pages of information to be looked at by a browser. The Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) had been used widely at CERN for documentation and HTML was a cut down version of the CERN documentation language. HTML is not a static language and has gone though a number of iterations over the last 10 years: was the first real standard definition for core HTML features based upon current HTML 2.0 practice in 1994. W3C's first Recommendation for HTML and was defined in 1996.HTML 3.2 added tables, applets, text-flow around images, superscripts and subscripts, and was compatible with HTML 2.0. was first released as a W3C Recommendation on 18 December 1997. HTML 4.0 was released on 24th December 1999 and fixed a number of bugs in the HTML 4.0 and then HTML 4.01 specification is a reformulation of HTML 4 in XML and was released on 26 January 2000.
There are certain advantages to the Web, such as multimedia, interactivity, timeliness, and a certain air of "tech awareness" that make creating HTML pages something of a necessity for businesses and a good idea for families, too. There are disadvantages as well, including the cost in time and money, the learning curve for Web design, and the constant need to update.
HTML has been forced to evolve over the last year because of the involvement of millions of people, larger businesses, and commercial artists. Spearheaded by Netscape Navigator, a number of extensions to HTML for page-layout purposes have confused the mission of the Web. As a designer, it's up to you to decide who your audience will be and the most appropriate flavors of HTML to use in order to reach that audience.
Advantages of HTML
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Web Most small or large businesses have a compelling reason to create a presence on the World Wide Web. It's an important new medium for communication that is relatively inexpensive to implement, it's a boon for dealing with customer service issues, and it's gaining popularity in leaps and bounds. But any good HTML designer should realize that there are also certain disadvantages to the Web. Advantages There are many good reasons to commit to creating a presence on the World Wide Web. Most of these are geared toward businesses, but you'll notice that these advantages are available to any Web site:
Multimedia presentation-A Web site allows you to do things that are simply not possible in any other medium. With some of the visual impact of television, the informational utility of print, and the personal appeal of radio, the Web is an effective tool for taking marketing information to another level. Products can be explained and offered in depth, along with pictures, video, sound, and even animation.
Interactivity-There are a number of different areas where the fact that your user can interactively determine what to view or hear can really make the difference for a business. Especially important is the added value the Web gives you for customer service, technical or product support, and immediate feedback. While most of any Web site is automated, it gives you an
Opportunity to answer frequently asked questions and point customers to resources that may help them solves problems on their own. While this may seem like an advantage reserved for computer companies, consider the implications for service-oriented industries like travel, consulting, catalog sales, and business-to-business sales.
Flexibility-If your business relies on printing or publishing as a medium, you may immediately see the advantage of the Web. Changes on the Web are relatively instantaneous, and the speed with which an update can be made is measured in minutes, not weeks. Consider the financial planner's or real estate agent's sales newsletter. Instant changes on the World Wide Web give their Net-savvy clients a time-based edge. Incorporating the Web into the services you offer a client gives you an added value in their eyes, especially in time-sensitive industries.
Easy High-Tech-Whether you're a small or large business, it's important to keep up with technology in order to satisfy customers and be up on the "latest." Web pages are moving toward a point where they'll be expected of large businesses and not unusual from small ones. Like e-mail a couple years ago, and fax machines before that, it's become important to keep up with the Web. Fortunately, it's also rather easy to get started with HTML and quickly develop a Web site.
The current state of HTML
With these commercial demands, however, have come different solutions. For every extension Netscape adds to HTML, there is generally (eventually) a standard agreed to by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that meets the same need. Unfortunately, the implementation isn’t always the same. So, it's possible for an HTML 4.0 level standard, for instance, to provide for exactly the same layout functions as Netscape-but do it in a way that isn’t compatible with Netscape's browser. So HTML is currently in a bit of a flux. The best you can hope for is that the HTML standard is agreed upon and maintained more quickly in the future as more ideas pop up. At the same time, it's important that the standard remain well thought-out, and that it isn't allowed to become bloated and unworkable. In fact, this is probably the justification for recent changes to the standards bodies. With the W3C taking control of HTML, it suggests a shift in the ultimate power over HTML to the corporate players. From now on, you can probably assume that HTML extensions beyond what is generally considered HTML 3.0 will become standard on a case-by-case basis. Overall, this is probably a good thing, since standards can be agreed on as technology emerges-and competing browsers can all use the same methods to incorporate new technology.